By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Efforts to revitalize Front Royal continue as Town Council looks to hire a person or group to fill a new position that would take on the task.
At a work session Monday, council discussed the contracted position of a community development resource officer, which officials say they hope can help bring business to downtown Front Royal and elsewhere in town.
Officials and council have worked to tweak the position and its duties. Town Manager Steven Burke gave an update on the matter to council. The fiscal 2013 budget includes $50,000 to cover a contract for the position.
Officials provided a draft of the request for qualifications, with a revised scope of services, which Front Royal would use to advertise for the position, according to Town Manager Steven Burke. The council also received information officials culled from the town business forum last month. Council is expected to continue its discussion of the changes to the request for qualifications at its work session this coming Monday, according to Burke.
Staff discussed the contract with proprietors at the July 18 business forum and participants came up with some recommendations regarding the scope of the position. The group came to a consensus to augment the scope to provide for grant writing to pursue the nationwide "Main Street" program, then to oversee and facilitate such an initiative.
As a contract position, the amount agreed upon covers the cost for the services but the person, group of people or company would not be on the town's payroll, Burke explained.
The town recently decided to not fund or participate with the Economic Development Authority covering Front Royal and Warren County. Instead council opted to hire someone on a contractual basis to help revitalize the town.
EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald at a meeting weeks ago said the agency would continue its work to support business growth for both localities, regardless of whether the town would fund the authority. But McDonald told council then she hoped the community development resource officer would not do the same work as the EDA and that the town wouldn't be spending its money on redundant services.
Town officials have since had the opportunity to look further into the position.
"I don't believe that it is so much redundant as it focuses more on town-related development," Burke said. "Part of what we took from the business forum is that the scope will be expanded to include pursuit of the designation of a Main Street program as well as expanding it to provide facilitation of meetings to develop a marketing focus for the town."
The position would focus on filling vacant store properties not only downtown but also the shopping centers as well as along Royal and Commerce avenues, Burke said.